Las Vegas addendum

After finishing yesterday’s post I finally found what I was looking for last night. Turns out I did indeed write a review of Star Wars Episode II after my initial viewing in May 2002, but I’ll spare you that tripe. However, as a comparison, here’s the portion of that post where 23 year-old me described our quest to see Episode II shortly after it happened. I may have gotten some of the details wrong in my retelling yesterday!

“As soon as my dad and I got to Las Vegas I started calling movie theaters to see which one had a digital projector. Since ‘Attack of the Clones’ was filmed entirely in digital format we wanted to see the movie the way George Lucas intended it to be viewed. The Orleans casino turned out to be the place to see digital Star Wars in Las Vegas. It was absolutely amazing. The difference between digital and film is akin to the difference between DVD and video. The clarity (i.e., the lack of lines and spots on the screen) made every detail of an expression or a costume noticeable. If a director really wants to draw a viewer into a movie then digital is the way to go. That, and having a great story to tell (i.e., Star Wars).”
5/23/02 webpage post

Las Vegas

On Sunday I got back from spending the weekend in Las Vegas with my running buddies. I’ll write more about that later, but our trip reminded me of another time I was in Las Vegas and I wanted to share that story first.

In 2001 when Dan and I were first dating we spent a weekend in Las Vegas, but I was underwhelmed. I thought the variety of over-the-top themed hotels and casinos was novel and interesting, but since I don’t gamble, drink, or party the city didn’t really have anything to hold my interest. (FYI, on subsequent visits I was introduced to some of the lesser-known attractions that are much more my style. Like state parks, art museums, outstanding restaurants, beautiful shops, and the now sadly defunct Star Trek: The Experience at the hotel formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton.) When we drove home from Las Vegas after that first trip I didn’t really have any desire to return. The second time I went there was a bit different. It was May 2002 and my dad and I were driving from Florida to California before I started my second Boeing internship. We spent two weeks on the road, visiting both sides of the family (in Ft. Smith, AR and Wichita, KS) as well as three of my top-choice grad schools (Georgia Tech, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Stanford). We had a fantastic time even though we basically had to live out of my tiny Dodge Neon and subsist on fast food hamburgers. About two-thirds of the way through the trip we found ourselves in the vicinity of Las Vegas and decided to spend a night there. I can’t remember exactly why, but it might have been because “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” had just been released and we wanted to see it. I know it’s the standard now, but back in 2002 digital movie projection was new and exciting and Episode II was one of the first movies to employ it. Tallahassee didn’t have a theater with a digital projector, but I figured Las Vegas might have this thrilling new technology. This was back before smart phones or wifi (or even reliable cell phone service) so I must have done research on theaters on my laptop using the dial-up internet connection of the hotel where we were staying a day or two before. Super high tech, huh? Lucky for us there was a theater featuring digital projection in The Orleans Casino. The bottom line is that, Attack of the Clones was the first movie I saw in digital format. Also, that was probably my best trip to Las Vegas. Road trip with my dad plus Star Wars. What could be better?

P.S. Since I was blogging back then I though I had written an account of this experience at the time (or at the very least a first-impression review of Episode II), but I can’t seem to find anything. Maybe I have it in an old Word document. I’ll keep looking!

Business travel again (Part 2)

A continuation of my musings from the Denver airport on 4/14 while waiting for my flight to DC. Because my train is tired tonight and writing something original isn’t going to happen after such a long work week!

As I was preparing for this trip I checked the DC weather and saw that it was going to be fairly cool, but not exactly frigid while I was there. It’s been three weeks since my last visit and much to my delight I wasn’t going to need the super warmth factor of my North Face down jacket this time around. So while I was packing I flipped through my closet and pulled out another option. It was the North Face jacket that I purchased back in 2016 for a January trip to DC. You know, the one that went completely unworn because the week I was there was unseasonably warm? Well, it still had the tags attached! I can’t believe it’s been hanging in my closet for over two years, lonely and neglected. But no more! It’s a lovely purple color and it fits great so I’m glad I kept it. Hopefully this jacket will be just what I need to brave the weather in DC this week. Of course I already spilled some of my protein shake on it this morning on the way to the airport so that’s annoying. It will have to go straight into in the wash when I get home!

This time around I also didn’t need the boots and their accompanying knee socks I hastily purchased in March. It’s not going to be nearly cold enough to require such hefty footwear. And it’s a good thing too because those boots gave me blisters. They fulfilled their purpose of protecting my feet from the cold on my last trip, but I don’t foresee myself wearing them again anytime soon. My favorite little leather flats were perfectly suited to handle the last gasp of winter in DC this week. And they take up so much less space in my suitcase. That allowed me to pack both my running shoes and my gym shoes for maximum workout potential. Whether I’ll wear both pairs on this trip seems unlikely, but at least I have them if I get ambitious with my exercise!

Business travel again (Part 1)

Written on 4/14 in the Denver airport while waiting for my flight to DC. I never feel comfortable using my laptop on a plane anymore given how cramped all of the seats are so I spent most of my layover in Denver writing. I have a silly follow-up story that I will post later this week.

I’m headed to DC again this morning. Currently I’m sitting in the Denver airport waiting for my connecting flight. And in similar fashion to all of my other recent travel, it’s delayed. Why am I not surprised? When going to DC I always like to arrive as early in the day as possible, but having to stop in Denver this time makes that a bit difficult. Luckily all I really need to do when I arrive this evening is go to the grocery store. There’s no way I can maintain my clean-ish eating plan without some fresh produce and healthy snacks. Temptation is always present! This time it will be in the form of Firehouse Subs and Potbelly Sandwiches. (Maybe they make salads? I’ll have to check.) Luckily I did find at least two restaurants that are salad-focused so I won’t have to eat pre-packaged ones every day. If I can stick to my diet this week I’m going to be very pleased with myself. And a little shocked! Similarly, I’d also like to hit the gym tonight, but that’s debatable given that my flight won’t arrive until about 5 PM. I’m missing my usual classes at the gym this week, which annoys me, but I’m going to try to keep up with the workouts on my own. My running buddy will send me the exercises from the classes she attends and I’ll do my best to replicate them in my hotel fitness center. I picked this hotel because they seem to have a nice, large workout space, unlike so many other places that only have a couple of cardio machines, and sometimes only one of each kind which can be problematic. I’ll definitely need some weights to do the boot camp routines. I really should run on the treadmill a couple of times as well, but that’s unlikely given my hatred of that infernal machine. I even brought both my running shoes and gym shows with me this time in case I feel motivated to mix things up. There wasn’t a single bit of extra space in my suitcase when I finished packing, but it’ll be worth it if my fitness routine doesn’t deteriorate while I’m away from home.

Regarding my flight back to LA on Friday, I was fortunate/smart enough to book a nonstop flight to LAX to hopefully avoid the drama of my last trip. Like last time, I have an event that I don’t want to miss shortly after I get home. I’m going to the Dodger game with some co-workers on Friday night so I absolutely, positively have to meet them at 4 PM to carpool to downtown LA. I hate making that drive myself, especially in rush hour traffic. My flight home is supposed to land at about 11:30 AM so that should give me more than enough time to stop by my house, change into baseball game appropriate apparel, and still make the required rendezvous. It’s Hello Kitty night at the Dodger game so there’s no way I’m going to miss it. We get t-shirts! Also, we’re sitting in the coveted all-you-can-eat section of the stadium. Usually that’s a great deal because you can get as many hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, drinks, etc. that you want, but it’s not so great for those of us on a diet that prohibits almost everything that tastes delicious! If I can successfully avoid sugar and grains while I’m on business travel I think I’ll allow myself to eat one or two hot dogs (necessary carbs for weekend running) at the game. And I’ll wash it down with unlimited diet soda! Not the healthiest choice I could make, but not the worst under the circumstances either. I do have a race on Saturday morning as well so that’s another reason to get home on schedule. Funny enough, it’s the Angels 5K at Anaheim Stadium. My running group is will all be there. It’s funny that I’ll be visiting both LA baseball stadiums in less than 24 hours!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Necessary purchases

“When I went to DC the week before last I took four jackets with me. This Florida/California girl does not handle much more than a mild winter very well so I packed two fleeces, a sweatshirt, and a North Face jacket that I’d just bought. I haven’t needed a heavier coat in years so in order to be prepared for potentially cold temperatures in DC I went in search of one before I left on my trip. … And after all that effort I ended up not needing it at all! In fact, it was too warm in DC that week for just about all of the outerwear I brought with me. So this new jacket that I went through so much trouble to obtain went completely unworn.”
2/15/16 webpage post

On March 12th I found out I was going on a business trip to New York and DC the following week. On its own this was great news since I haven’t traveled for work in more than two years (January 2016 per the above quote) and I miss seeing my DC co-workers on a regular basis…but then I checked the weather. The place I was headed to in New York was going to be freezing. I don’t own a single jacket or pair of shoes that can handle lows in the teens and highs in the 20s. Brr! My time in Florida and California has done nothing to equip me for such temperatures. My closet full of light fleece jackets and flimsy leather flats just weren’t going to cut it in such a cold climate. So on March 16th I went to the North Face store, browsed the sale rack in desperation, and then begged a salesman for help. He was invaluable helping me pick out a jacket that was appropriate for the minimal amount of time I was planning to spent outside in the cold (basically just walking to and from my car at the airport, my hotel, and work). And on sale too! You don’t know how relieved I was to walk out of the store with a jacket. I wasn’t going to freeze to death in New York!

Then on March 18th, the very last day before I left town, I went to the mall in flip-flops and a hoodie (a true Southern California outfit) to find a pair of boots for my trip. I thought for sure I would find lots of options to try on and choose from at DSW Shoe Warehouse, but I was wrong. Turns out mid-March is way too late in the year to shop for boots. I had no idea! I got rid of my last few pairs years ago and now I wish I hadn’t. (In the last couple of years I have fallen in love with Tieks flats and I haven’t worn anything else to work since then.) After striking out at DSW I suddenly got very anxious about finding suitable footwear for cold weather before leaving California. Luckily, a lovely Macy’s employee scoured their limited stock of winter shoes where she found a pair of simple black ankle boots in my size. And by some miracle they actually fit my crazy narrow feet and felt pretty good. Hallelujah! I am so grateful to that Macy’s saleswoman. My feet weren’t blocks of ice in New York thanks to her. (The downside was learning the hard way that the boots were NOT made for walking. Hoofing it through three airports on March 21st was painful.) So I figure the necessary purchases of the jacket and boots make up for the unnecessarily purchased jacket for my trip to DC two years ago. Things have a way of working out eventually!

The race that almost wasn’t

You don’t know how happy I was to run the Seal Beach 5K on March 24th. Not because it’s my beloved hometown race or because I can basically roll out of bed and walk to the start line, but because I had to defy the odds to get there this year. I was on a business trip to two different cities during the week, and I booked my flight home on Friday evening so that I would be back in time to run the race on Saturday morning. It wasn’t ideal with my plane landing in Orange County at 10 PM, but I was committed. However, things didn’t exactly go as planned.

On Monday my flight from Orange County to New York (with a layover in Atlanta) was blessedly uneventful. It was so cold in New York, though. Luckily there was no snowfall while I was there and I didn’t have to deal with much ice due to covered parking at my hotel. That leg of my trip was very successful. Then it came time for me to fly to DC on Wednesday evening. Of course that was the day Winter Storm Toby was terrorizing the eastern seaboard so it seemed very likely that my travel plans would have to change. But as the day progressed Delta never modified my itinerary or downgraded the status of my flights so I headed to the airport as planned. My co-workers who were on direct flights that afternoon had to reschedule their travel for the next day. However, since I had a completely out-of-the-way layover in Detroit first, I somehow made it to Dulles without any trouble because my flight landed around 9 PM. By then the snow had stopped and the roads were perfectly clear when driving to my hotel. It really couldn’t have been any easier. I thought the worst was over, but I was so wrong.

On Friday evening I headed to Dulles to fly back home, with a layover in Minneapolis first. My flight from DC took off late due to “air traffic” (Delta’s explanation) which caused me to miss my connection to Orange County. When the plane landed in Minneapolis I ran to attempt to make the connection, but when I arrived, out of breath and fairly sweaty, the jetway doors had already closed. I was out of luck and so annoyed. Delta had already rebooked me on another flight the following morning so things were looking bad, but I hadn’t quite given up hope of getting home that night. My final opportunity was a flight to LAX that was leaving a few hours later. Of course it was overbooked, but an airline employee put me close to the top of the standby list. Miraculously I got the last seat on the flight so I was headed home! It landed at LAX at midnight. Remember that I was originally supposed to fly to Orange County? This meant that my car was 40 miles away. I took a very expensive taxi ride from one airport to another, picked up my car, and drove an additional 30 minutes to get home at 2 AM. At that point I had been awake for about 20 hours and I was exhausted. I fell asleep around 2:30 AM with my alarm set for 7 AM in order to give myself a bare minimum amount of time to get ready for the Seal Beach 5K in the morning. So everything worked out and I got to run the race, but I never expected it would be such an ordeal!

Running in Arkansas

In order to keep my marathon training on track while visiting family in Arkansas this weekend I ran 10 miles around Lake Fayetteville this morning. It’s a lovely spot, especially with the fall color starting to emerge this time of year, and there’s a 5.5 mile long paved trail that goes all the way around the lake. I ran the loop twice to get all of my needed mileage. It was quite cold (for this Californian, at least) when I started my run, about 42 deg, but it warmed up significantly during the two hours I was out there. I didn’t need my arm warmers for more than the first few miles. When I planned this trip I was a little worried about missing this weekend’s required run, so I’m really glad that I got it done while I was out of town. I’m flying home tomorrow so I have no excuses to miss any upcoming training runs. Darn!

More recent difficulties

Forgive me, but I’m going to whine a little bit more. As much as I loved my trip to Orlando and the Bahamas (which I will elaborate on in another post), there were a few snags. Most notably, I’m stuck at home right now with the flu, a really bad cold, or some combination of the two. It sucks big time. It all started on Thursday afternoon when my mom and I watched “The Force Awakens” on our Disney Cruise. Between then and dinnertime I developed a sore throat. I could have caught something from anyone on that ship (despite the borderline obsession with cleanliness on the cruise), but my money’s on the girl sitting next to me in the theater who was coughing up a lung. When the sore throat hadn’t gone away by the next morning when we docked in Port Canaveral I knew I was sick. Assuming I just had a cold I got some Zicam at the first available CVS and took it regularly for the next three days. I didn’t feel too terrible the next couple of days so I thought I was going to get off easy with this illness. Then on Sunday it took a turn. I went to work for a few hours to sort through all of my emails that I’d piled up while I was on vacation and get some boring administrative work done while no one else was around. I felt surprisingly good so I was contemplating going to spin class the next day to get some much needed exercise, but at 2 PM my sore throat got exponentially worse. I headed home earlier than I originally planned in order to rest. But as I was lying on the couch watching the Oscars I started feeling achy and shivering like crazy – all signs that I had a fever. And the thermometer confirmed it. Now my “cold” was looking more like the flu. So instead of going to work on Monday morning I went to urgent care and got a prescription for Tamiflu. The doctor wasn’t optimistic that it would help me very much (he said it was more effective last year than it has been so far this year), but he said I could try it anyway. So this was a long-winded way of saying that the most memorable souvenir from my trip was a nasty cold/flu that’s kept me home sick for two days. The only benefit is that I’ve been forced to rest my pulled muscle that I sustained nearly three weeks ago.

Speaking of which, that pulled muscle I first wrote about before I left for Orlando caused me a lot of problems while I was on vacation. When the Princess 10K rolled around that Saturday morning I hadn’t run at all in over a week in an attempt to let my body heal. I had no idea how I was going to fare during the race. I started out the 10K running slowly, and I felt pretty good at first. Unfortunately before I reached even 0.5 miles my leg was hurting so much I had to switch to walking instead. Limping is more like it. It took me nearly the rest of the 6.2 miles to feel somewhat normal again. Obviously I wasn’t quite healed yet. I was really happy to be wearing arm warmers with my short-sleeve shirt because walking didn’t keep me very comfortable on a chilly Florida morning! I crossed the finish line knowing that running the half marathon the next day was out of the question. Neither was skipping the race. I wasn’t going to risk further injuring myself by running, but I also wasn’t going to throw away the opportunity to complete the Glass Slipper Challenge (and earn my pink Coast to Coast medal after the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in May). So I walked it. The entire 13.1 miles. And it was so boring! It took me nearly 4 hours to complete the Princess Half Marathon, but I did it and collected all of my medals afterwards. The last race of my trip was the Castaway Cay 5K on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. I knew I wasn’t ready to run yet so I walked the 3.1 miles with my mom on Castaway Cay. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting course, and it was really hot and humid that morning, but we finished the race (not dead last either!) and earned our medals. And then we bought Castaway Cay 5K shirts! Those are my two favorite souvenirs from the Disney Cruise. So over the course of my nine-day vacation I completed 22.4 miles of races, walking almost that entire distance. I’m proud that I did it, but I hope I never have to repeat it! Once I recover from this cold/flu/whatever I’ll give running a try again. I have to be ready for all of the spring races I’m already registered for!

Recent difficulties

Last Thursday I pulled a muscle in my leg while going for a routine weeknight run. I felt some weird pains after the first two miles, but by mile three I knew something was really wrong. After four miles I limped home, cursing under my breath. An injury was problematic for a couple of reasons – 1) The Mermaid 10K I was registered for that Saturday, and 2) My trip to Orlando for the Princess Half Marathon a week later. Being hurt at a time like this was just not acceptable. I almost never regret going for a run, but this time I wished I’d been lazy and stayed home on my couch watching television. I went to bed that night hoping that I’d be miraculously healed by the next morning. I wasn’t. That night I was supposed to drive down to San Diego and stay in a hotel before the Mermaid 10K. But since I was still hurting when I woke up I tried to cancel my reservation. It was too late to do that without getting charged for the room anyway so I had to find another solution. I emailed the race company and asked if there was any way I could switch from the 10K to the 5K so that I could walk it in a reasonable amount of time but still participate in the event. Luckily they responded that it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s a good thing too because I really wanted that shirt and medal! So I packed warmer clothes to wear for the race (walking does not keep you nearly as toasty as running) and made my way to San Diego on Friday night. Walking the 5K was a bit boring, but I’m glad I did it. My leg was stiff and sore, but not too bad. Running that day would have aggravated it, I’m sure, so at least I was smart enough to avoid that. My main goal was to be healthy for the Princess 10K and half marathon at Disney World this weekend!

And speaking of my trip to Orlando, it hasn’t exactly started off smoothly today. I woke up at 6 AM and checked my email. Nothing interesting there. Then I finished packing my bags, loaded up my car, and headed to McDonald’s at 7:30 AM for a quick breakfast on my way to the airport. When I was halfway through my Egg McMuffin I checked my email again and found out that the first leg of my flight had been cancelled. The new itinerary that the airline sent me had me arriving in Orlando not at 8 PM as originally planned, but at 5 AM tomorrow morning. Not cool. The good news was I was only a few blocks from home so I could drive back and investigate rearranging my travel plans. The bad news was that JetBlue had no better options than my effective redeye that arrived in Orlando before the crack of dawn tomorrow. I had bought a ticket on a flight leaving from Long Beach due to the convenience, but if I’d had the inclination to drive up to LAX I could have gotten to Orlando a bit sooner. But only about 4 hours sooner, which wasn’t much help. I reluctantly accepted my fate to depart this afternoon and get to Florida in the wee hours. Then I spent the rest of my morning watching TV shows from this week on my DVR. Gotta make space for all the shows that are going to get recorded while I’m gone! Right now I’m sitting at the Long Beach airport waiting to board my plane to Salt Lake City. I’m going to need to buy a neck pillow when I get there (I have about a four hour layover) because sleeping on the flight to Orlando is my best option to avoid a vampire schedule. Luckily the only thing I absolutely have to do tomorrow is go to the expo and pick up my race bib and shirts. I’ll get some sleep eventually!

Unnecessary purchases

When I went to DC the week before last I took four jackets with me. Not to wear all at once, of course, but for different situations (inside, outside, cold, not so cold, etc.). This Florida/California girl does not handle much more than a mild winter very well so I packed two fleeces, a sweatshirt, and a North Face jacket that I’d just bought. I haven’t needed a heavier coat in years so in order to be prepared for potentially cold temperatures in DC I went in search of one before I left on my trip. The first place I looked was REI, but I was underwhelmed with their selection. My next stop was the North Face store at South Coast Plaza which I figured would be chock full of good options. But strangely I wasn’t crazy about the offerings there either. The warmer jackets that I was interested in were really expensive and I wasn’t willing to spend $200 on something that I would need for a week, tops. In desperation I tried Sport Chalet. Surprisingly I found an acceptable option, a North Face jacket that was also on the sale rack. The only downside was the color. It was a drab light gray that I never would have selected given any other choices. But I bought the jacket anyway because time I didn’t think I’d have time to shop for another one before my trip. When I got home that day I did a quick search and found out that this particular item comes in a seemingly endless array of colors, all of which were more appealing than the light gray. I immediately ordered one in a lovely dark purple from REI online with assurances that it would arrive in time for me to take it to DC. Unfortunately my plan didn’t exactly work out. The jacket from REI didn’t get delivered as promised so the stupid gray jacket made the trip to the East Coast with me. And after all that effort I ended up not needing it at all! In fact, it was too warm in DC that week for just about all of the outerwear I brought with me. So this new jacket that I went through so much trouble to obtain went completely unworn. The good news is that I returned it to Sport Chalet this weekend without any trouble. Now I have to decide whether I want to keep the purple version. I’m not sure there’s any reason to. It’s not exactly useful in Los Angeles, and I don’t anticipate visiting any cold climates soon. What a ridiculously drawn out scenario for a jacket that I might never need!